The Malta Independent 10 December 2018, Monday

Spring hunting season for turtle dove, quail to open on 17 April, subject to special measures

Tuesday, 15 March 2016, 11:40 Last update: about 4 years ago

Upon considering Malta Ornis Committee’s recommendations, results of the scientific assessment of the conservation status of turtle dove and quail, results of bird migration studies, and the outcome of the previous autumn hunting season, the government will open the 2016 spring hunting season, subject to special measures to further reduce the impact of the limited derogation on the population of the species concerned.

The season will be open during a two-week period between 17th and 30th April, a reduction of seven days from the maximum of three weeks allowed under the Framework Regulations. Permitted hunting hours will be reduced to between two hours before sunrise and until noon on all days, which represents a reduction of two hours on each weekday. Moreover, the national spring quota for turtle dove has been reduced from the maximum of 11,000 birds to just 5,000 birds. The 5,000 national quota for quail, as well as the individual daily bag limit of two birds and the maximum season’s bag limit per hunter of four birds, will remain unchanged. Furthermore, the autumn hunting season for turtle dove will be reduced from five months (previously between 1st September and 31st January of the following year) to the month of September only. This one month autumn hunting season for turtle dove will be subject to the maximum national quota of 7,000 birds.

Only those persons who are issued with a Special Spring Hunting License for 2016 will be permitted to hunt turtle dove and quail during this two week spring season. In order to obtain this special license, hunters must have, at the time of application:

(a)    Valid general license to hunt birds on land;

(b)   Paid-up membership in a recognised hunting organisation for 2016;

(c)    Valid third party liability insurance cover for 2016;

(d)   Valid permit to carry a firearm for hunting of birds on land issued by the Police.

Eligible hunters may apply for the Special Spring Hunting License at any MaltaPost branch in Malta and Gozo during normal branch opening hours, between Monday 21 March and Wednesday 30 March, both dates included. Applications submitted after this period will not be accepted.

The application form for the Special Spring Hunting License has been sent to eligible hunters and will also be available at MaltaPost. This form must be duly completed and signed by the applicant and, in the case of another person applying on the eligible hunter’s behalf, also by the person submitting such application. Applicants must present completed and signed application forms at MaltaPost during the dates stipulated above. MaltaPost will only accept an application upon presentation of the applicant’s ID card and a valid permit to carry a firearm for hunting of birds on land (police permit should only be shown to MaltaPost counter staff, but not handed over with the application). Upon receiving an application, MaltaPost will issue each applicant with a receipt, which is to be retained by the applicant.

Following the application procedure, the special licenses will be mailed to eligible applicants by post. Separately, hunters will also receive their general license cards and accompanying information booklets, in advance of the season. Hunters must read and understand carefully all provisions of their special license, as well as reporting instructions stipulated therein, to ensure compliance with the law. 

The limited spring hunting season will be subject to stringent enforcement, and any non-compliance with applicable conditions and regulations will not be tolerated.

Birdlife says government is ignoring scientific information

BirdLife Malta said it's disappointed with the Government's decision to open another spring hunting season on Turtle Doves when the Government has documents that indicate that this should not take place anymore.

In a press statement, Birdlife Malta said that instead of giving value to scientific facts based on research, the Government has taken the wrong decision to open another spring hunting season on the turtle dove.

It explained that in the past year, the turtle dove's status has gone from bad to worse and is now in a vulnerable status.

"Its numbers have decreased by 30% in 15 years. These are facts that nobody can deny," it added.  

BirdLife Malta stated that when there is scientific information being neglected year after another, and the Government takes a decision purely on a political basis, there may be the need for this decision to be taken by the public.

BirdLife Malta insists that Spring hunting is unsustainable and that killing birds on their last step from their breeding grounds goes against the values of conservation. Malta remains the only country in the European Union to allow hunting of Turtle Dove in spring. 

FKNK react

Meanwhile, the Hunter's Federation (FKNK) said that Birdlife had started a campaign to eradicate the tradition of spring hunting which eventually led to a referendum, but FKNK managed to win. 

FKNK claims there is a discrepancy in the number of birds caught and reported by Birdlife and the number which the Member States presented to the European Union. 

"When one considers that over 2,000,000 turtle doves are caught each year in Europe, FKNK has to comment how this contrasts with the 4,000 which are caught in Malta," the statement adds.

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